18 Best Things To Do In North Adams, Massachusetts

Entering North Adams, Massachusetts sign off the side of the highway
"Entering North Adams, Massachusetts" by jimmywayne is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Table of Contents

Introduction

Looking for the best things to do in North Adams, Massachusetts? We have you covered with this guide. With its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and stunning natural landscapes, North Adams offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or an outdoor adventurer, this charming city has something to offer everyone. 

In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey through the best things to do in North Adams, from exploring world-class museums and galleries to immersing yourself in the beauty of its scenic parks and trails. Continue reading to discover the unforgettable experiences that await in this captivating New England destination!

1. Visit the renowned MASS MoCA

MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts
“MASS MoCA – North Adams” by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts interior gallery with wide open space
“Richard Nonas – The Man in the Empty Space – MASS MoCA” by Len Radin is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Visiting MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, Massachusetts, is an exhilarating and immersive journey into the world of contemporary art. Housed in a vast renovated mill complex, this cutting-edge museum offers a dynamic and ever-changing collection of contemporary artworks from both emerging and established artists. The expansive galleries provide a canvas for an eclectic range of art forms, from large-scale installations and multimedia exhibits to thought-provoking paintings and sculptures. 

With its commitment to showcasing innovative and thought-provoking art, MASS MoCA challenges visitors to engage with art in new and unexpected ways. Beyond the galleries, the museum hosts a variety of performances, concerts, and workshops that enrich the cultural experience for all. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a casual observer, a visit to MASS MoCA is an enriching and transformative experience that celebrates the power of contemporary art to inspire, question, and provoke meaningful conversations.

Learn more at massmoca.org

Get directions: HERE

2. Explore Natural Bridge State Park

Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, Massachusetts
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Visiting Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a mesmerizing journey into the wonders of nature and the geological marvels of the region. This unique park is home to an extraordinary natural limestone bridge, carved by the forces of water over millions of years. As visitors explore the park’s well-maintained trails, they are greeted with awe-inspiring views of the massive stone arch, allowing for an up-close encounter with this rare geological formation. The park’s lush surroundings, with dense forests and bubbling streams, create a serene and peaceful atmosphere that invites contemplation and appreciation for the natural world. 

In addition to the natural bridge, the park features cascading waterfalls, historical artifacts, and informational exhibits that provide insight into the area’s rich history and ecological significance. Whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast, a geology buff, or simply seeking a serene escape into the beauty of the outdoors, a visit to Natural Bridge State Park is a captivating and educational experience that showcases the wonders of Massachusetts’ natural treasures.

Get directions: HERE

3. Sip on some fresh beers at Bright Ideas Brewing

A visit to Bright Ideas Brewing is a delightful experience that combines craft beer excellence with a vibrant community atmosphere. Housed in a historic building that once served as a bustling textile mill, this brewery pays homage to its industrial past while embracing a modern and innovative approach to brewing. It is located in the same complex at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art so many museum-goers stop at the brewery after visiting. 

Bright Ideas offers a diverse and creative selection of craft beers, ranging from hoppy IPAs to smooth stouts, each brewed with care and passion. The brewery’s inviting taproom provides a cozy space to enjoy a pint with friends or engage in conversation with fellow beer enthusiasts. In addition to its top-notch brews, Bright Ideas hosts a variety of events, including live music, trivia nights, and community gatherings, fostering a sense of camaraderie and connection among locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re a craft beer connoisseur or simply looking for a welcoming spot to unwind, a visit to Bright Ideas Brewing promises a memorable and enriching experience that captures the spirit of North Adams’ creative and vibrant community.

The taproom is open 6 days a week and their brews can also be found on tap at many local restaurants. 16-oz four packs of their beer are stocked at several package stores in the area.

Learn more at brightideasbrewing.com

Get directions: HERE

4. Get some steps in along the Hoosac Range Trail

Hoosac Range Trail in North Adams, Massachusetts
“North Adams viewed from Top o’ the World, September 2022” by Pi.1415926535 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

Hiking the Hoosac Range Trail in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a rewarding adventure that showcases the natural beauty and scenic vistas of the Berkshires. This well-maintained trail offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the lush forests and rugged landscapes of the Hoosac Range. As you ascend the trail, the views become increasingly breathtaking, revealing panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The trail weaves through diverse terrain, offering a mix of moderate inclines and flatter stretches, making it accessible for hikers of various skill levels. 

Along the way, hikers may encounter picturesque little waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and unique rock formations that add to the allure of the journey. At the summit, hikers are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and unparalleled views that make the effort well worth it. Whether you’re seeking solitude in nature, a challenging workout, or simply a connection with the natural wonders of the Berkshires, hiking the Hoosac Range Trail promises an unforgettable and rejuvenating experience in the heart of North Adams, Massachusetts.

There are two popular hiking options. The shorter hike is up to Sunset Rock which is about 1.3 miles out-and-back and it usually takes about 1 hour to complete. The Sunset Rock Trail is rated as easy. For hikers seeking more of a workout, hiking up Spruce Hill is a great option. The Spruce Hill Trail measures 5.1 miles out-and-back and it usually takes 2-3 hours to complete. This trail is rated as difficult. 

Get directions: HERE

5. Swim, fish, or paddle at Windsor Lake

Windsor Lake in North Adams, Massachusetts
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Windsor Lake is a tranquil oasis that offers a peaceful escape amidst the scenic beauty of the Berkshires. This pristine lake is a beloved recreational spot for both locals and visitors, providing a range of activities for all to enjoy. With its sandy beach, clear waters, and lush surroundings, Windsor Lake invites sunbathers to bask in the warmth of the sun and take refreshing dips in the cool waters. Kayakers and paddleboarders can explore the lake’s serene surface, while anglers can try their luck fishing for bass and trout. The lake’s well-maintained walking trails offer leisurely strolls with picturesque views, making it an ideal spot for a family picnic or a quiet moment of reflection in nature. Windsor Lake’s peaceful ambiance and natural charm make it a popular destination year-round, whether for summertime fun or a serene winter walk. A visit to Windsor Lake is a chance to experience the beauty and tranquility of the Berkshires, immersing oneself in the serenity and rejuvenating power of nature.

Get directions: HERE

6. Trek to the epic waterfall known as The Cascade

The Cascade waterfall in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a captivating natural wonder that enchants visitors with its picturesque beauty and soothing sounds. Located on a well-mainted town land, The Cascade drops a staggering 45 feet along Notch Brook. At 45 feet, the waterfall is one of the 10 tallest waterfalls in Massachusetts. The hike to the waterfall is about 2.2 miles out-and-back and features just 275 feet of elevation gain. Seeing this beautiful waterfall is well-worth the hike!

Whether visited during the vibrant colors of autumn or the serenity of a winter snowfall, The Cascade waterfall offers a peaceful escape into nature and a moment of tranquility away from the bustle of everyday life. With its accessible trail and captivating scenery, The Cascade waterfall is a cherished spot for locals and visitors alike.

Get directions: HERE

7. Drive the legendary hairpin turn

Driving the hairpin turn in North Adams, Massachusetts along Route 2 is an exhilarating and scenic experience that showcases the engineering marvel of this iconic roadway. The Route 2 Hairpin Turn, also known as The Mohawk Trail Hairpin Turn, is a tight curve that winds its way up the picturesque Hoosac Mountain Range. As drivers navigate the steep ascent, they are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, with the city of North Adams nestled below and the verdant hills stretching out before them. 

Right at the turn, visitors will find Golden Eagle restaurant which is a popular classic American eatery. Continue up the road to reach the hairpin turn overlook adjacent to Wigwam Western Summit. The hairpin turn is not only a highlight for road enthusiasts but also serves as a gateway to the natural wonders of the Berkshires, making it a must-see attraction for anyone exploring the scenic beauty of North Adams and its surrounding areas.

Get directions: HERE

8. Visit the Sanford Blackinton Mansion, now the North Adams Public Library

Sanford Blackinton Mansion, now the North Adams Public Library in North Adams, Massachusetts
“North Adams Public Library (North Adams, Massachusetts)” by cmh2315fl is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The Sanford Blackinton Mansion, also known as the North Adams Public Library, is a stunning architectural gem that exudes elegance and historical significance. Built in 1865, this Victorian-era mansion boasts intricate detailing and ornate craftsmanship, reflecting the opulence of the Gilded Age. The mansion was constructed for Sanford Blackinton who made a fortune producing woolen goods during the Civil War. Blackinton was known for being the first millionaire in North Adams.

In the 1890s, the mansion was put up for sale. A.C. Houghton, North Adams’ first mayor, purchased the mansion in 1896. He donated the mansion to the town so it could be used as a public library and community center. Today, visitors of the library can enjoy the stunning home. The mansion’s exterior, with its grand facade and distinctive turret, immediately captures the attention of passersby. Inside, visitors are welcomed into a world of refined beauty and timeless charm, as they explore the library’s vast collection of books and resources. The mansion’s rich history is palpable in every corner. Today, the Sanford Blackinton Mansion stands as a cherished symbol of North Adams’ cultural heritage and a treasured space for both literary pursuits and architectural admiration.

Get directions: HERE

9. Hike a portion of the legendary Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail in North Adams, Massachusetts
“Appalachian Trail 2012” by John Hayes (gravelboy) is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous trails in the nation. It spans over 2,000 miles from Goergia to Maine. Fortunately, the trail runs right through North Adams, Massachusetts. A great activity can be to hike a bit of the trail. As hikers venture along the trail, they are rewarded with sweeping vistas of the surrounding landscapes, showcasing the vibrant colors of the changing seasons. The path winds through dense forests, crosses crystal-clear streams, and leads to breathtaking overlooks, providing ample opportunities to marvel at the natural wonders of the Berkshires. With its well-maintained trails and clearly marked signs, the Appalachian Trail in North Adams is accessible to both seasoned hikers and those seeking a shorter adventure. 

One of the most popular parking areas to access the trail can be found along Pattison Road.

Get directions: HERE

10. Enjoy a cone from the old-school Pedrin’s Dairy Bar

Enjoying food from Pedrin’s Dairy Bar in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a delightful experience that captures the essence of classic American fare and the nostalgia of a beloved local institution. Since 1962, this family-owned dairy bar has been serving up delicious comfort food, ice cream treats, and a warm sense of community to locals and visitors alike. The menu boasts a variety of mouthwatering options, from juicy burgers and crispy onion rings to flavorful hot dogs and savory sandwiches. However, it’s the ice cream that truly steals the show – with an array of delectable flavors and generous portions, Pedrin’s Dairy Bar is a haven for ice cream enthusiasts of all ages. 

The laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff create a welcoming setting to savor your meal, whether you’re sitting at the picnic tables or enjoying your ice cream on a warm summer day. A visit to Pedrin’s Dairy Bar is not just about indulging in delicious food but also about connecting with the local community and creating cherished memories that last a lifetime.

Get directions: HERE

11. Sample some super-fresh cider at the Berkshire Cider Project

The Berkshire Cider Project in North Adams is a haven for cider enthusiasts and anyone looking to experience the rich flavors of locally crafted beverages. Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of the Berkshires, this cidery takes pride in producing high-quality ciders made from carefully selected apples sourced locally. Although the majority of their products use apples from orchards, they love getting the local community involved and one of their recent ciders was actually produced using donated apples growing in backyards, forest trails, and forgotten trees across Berkshire County. The desire to do good for locals and the environment is a top priority for the husband and wife duo who run the company. In fact, the Berkshire Cider Project is a Certified B Corp!

The cozy and welcoming taproom invites visitors to indulge in a variety of unique and artfully crafted ciders, each offering a distinct taste that captures the essence of the region. From crisp and refreshing blends to more complex and aromatic varieties, the Berkshire Cider Project offers a diverse selection to suit every palate. All beverages are dry and sparkling while containing 100% apples. The passionate and knowledgeable staff are eager to share their cider-making process and provide guidance to newcomers and connoisseurs alike. With its commitment to sourcing locally and promoting the region’s apple-growing heritage, the Berkshire Cider Project is not just a cidery but a celebration of the Berkshires’ flavors and community spirit. 

Learn more at berkshire-cider.com

Get directions: HERE

12. Go camping at Historic Valley Park

Camping at Historic Valley Park offers a unique and enriching experience that combines natural beauty with a sense of history. Nestled in the serene landscapes of the Berkshires, this park provides a picturesque setting for campers to immerse themselves in the great outdoors while also connecting with the area’s rich past. The campground offers a range of options, from tent sites to RV spots, ensuring that every camper can find a comfortable and suitable space to call their own. 

As the sun sets over the mountains, campers can gather around the campfire, sharing stories and laughter under the starlit sky. During the day, opportunities for hiking, fishing, and exploring make it a perfect destination. Whether seeking a peaceful retreat or a family-friendly adventure, camping at Historic Valley Park provides a one-of-a-kind experience that celebrates the beauty of the Berkshires and the rich heritage of North Adams, Massachusetts.

Get directions: HERE

13. Listen to the Harmonic Bridge

The Harmonic Bridge in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a captivating public art installation that serves as a beautiful symbol of creativity and innovation in the city. This installation was created by artists Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger. The pair attached two 16-foot resonating tubes to the underside of a highway overpass and set up microphones at predetermined intervals to record the sounds of passing vehicles and people. Speakers enclosed in concrete cubes on either side of the road below the bridge receive the sounds as they descend. The machine produces a droning C hum with a sound wave that is 16 feet long, which explains why the tubes are so long.

The droning is a quiet presence that merges with the sounds of passing cars to produce an unusual acoustic environment in what could otherwise seem like an uninteresting setting. A musical instrument that the city itself plays, one whose melodies blend seamlessly with the ambient sounds of the urban environment. With its harmonious blend of art and functionality, the Harmonic Bridge not only connects two parts of the city but also connects people through the shared appreciation of creativity and imagination.

Get directions: HERE

14. Admire the interesting sights at the Hillside Cemetery

Hillside Cemetery in North Adams, Massachusetts
“Hillside Cemetery North Adams 1” by Beyond My Ken is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

When it comes to town guides, you probably don’t expect to see a cemetery listed. But the Hillside Cemetery in North Adams, Massachusetts is far from the standard. This cemetery dates back to 1798 and it could easily be considered an open art museum. While many cemeteries feature redundant headstones, each grave at the Hillside Cemetery is marked with stunning and unique sculptures that are truly works of art. 

Discover its wide range of unusual and amazing grave markers, such as one in the shape of a tree, various human statues, and the magnificent Tinker Mausoleum. The Tinker Mausoleum was built in 1926 and it resembles a miniature Supreme Court structure. It is an excellent example of an Ionic prostyle (temple with a shallow portico in front) templed for with a plain entablature composed of a banded architrave and a plain frieze. The fact that this cemetery is next to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art makes sense; occasionally, it might even surpass that collection.

It’s perhaps more intriguing that no one notable in particular is buried here since it makes the markers seem more sincere and appealing. However, this does not imply that there is no hierarchy of notability among the Hillside dwellers. A renowned archaeologist, a congressman, a senator, a close friend of two US presidents, and a witness to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address are among those buried here. The history of the cemetery and all of the beautiful structures led to the Hillside Cementary being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. This is a major honor and will ensure the site is cared for. 

Get directions: HERE

15. Eat like a local at PUBLIC eat+drink

Dining at PUBLIC eat+drink in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a culinary experience that celebrates the essence of farm-to-table cuisine and the vibrant local flavors of the Berkshires. This charming and contemporary restaurant welcomes guests with a warm and inviting ambiance, creating the perfect setting for a memorable dining experience. The menu showcases a creative fusion of seasonal ingredients sourced from nearby farms and producers, resulting in dishes that burst with freshness and flavor. From delectable appetizers and artisanal cocktails to innovative entrees and mouthwatering desserts, every dish at PUBLIC eat+drink is crafted with care and passion. 

The restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and supporting local businesses is evident in every bite, creating a dining experience that not only tantalizes the taste buds but also nurtures a connection to the region’s culinary heritage. Whether dining with friends, family, or loved ones, a visit to PUBLIC eat+drink promises a culinary adventure that showcases the very best of North Adams’ culinary scene.

Learn more at publiceatanddrink.com

Get directions: HERE

16. Admire Martin Puryear’s “Big Bling” Sculpture

Martin Puryear's “Big Bling” Sculpture in North Adams, Massachusetts
“Martin Puryear in North Adams, Mass.” by shermaniac is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Martin Puryear’s “Big Bling” sculpture in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a captivating and thought-provoking work of art that stands as a testament to creativity and imagination. Located in the heart of downtown and adjacent to MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), this monumental sculpture stands tall, rising to a height of over 40 feet. Renowned American sculpture, Martin Puryear, combined elements of architecture and sculpture to create a unique and striking presence that invites contemplation and engagement. 

The artist has created an ongoing conversation with history, art history, identity, and politics using abstract means. Here, the phrase “bling,” which refers to showy jewelry and accessories, has roots in the 1990s hip-hop and rap cultures popular among urban youth. The title of the piece and its initial location in the middle of Manhattan show Puryear’s realization that Big Bling was a reflection of the personality and occupants of congested metropolitan surroundings. Big Bling was initially commissioned for New York City’s Madison Square Park. It was exhibited from May 16, 2016, to April 2, 2017 in Madison Square Park. MASS MoCA helped restore and relocate the piece. It now can be found right in downtown North Adams. The larger scale of the piece compared to the smaller scale and density of a New England mill town alters the perspective of viewers while magnifying the colossal impact of the work.

Get directions: HERE

17. Spend some time at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park

Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams, Massachusetts, is a unique historical site that pays homage to the monumental engineering feat of the Hoosac Tunnel. This fascinating state park is located just a few miles from the tunnel, which was completed in 1875 and was once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” 

As visitors explore the park, they are transported back in time to an era of railway expansion and industrial progress. The park features informative exhibits and displays that delve into the history and construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, providing a captivating glimpse into the challenges and triumphs faced by the laborers who built this engineering marvel. The surrounding landscapes, with picturesque views of the Hoosic River and the Berkshire Mountains, offer a serene and contemplative atmosphere for visitors to reflect on the significance of the Hoosac Tunnel and its lasting impact on the region’s history and development. Western Gateway Heritage State Park stands as a tribute to the ingenuity and perseverance of those who worked on the tunnel, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in the rich industrial heritage of North Adams.

Get directions: HERE

18. Enjoy a round at the Windsor Lake Disc Golf Course

Windsor Lake Disc Golf Course in North Adams, Massachusetts
“Disc Golf: On the Green” by Oberazzi is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

The Windsor Lake Disc Golf Course in North Adams, Massachusetts, offers disc golf enthusiasts a fun and challenging experience amidst the picturesque landscapes of the Berkshires. This 18-hole course is nestled within the scenic Windsor Lake Park, providing players with a unique combination of natural beauty and disc golf excitement. As you navigate the course’s well-designed fairways and strategic obstacles, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains, adding to the enjoyment of the game. 

With its beginner-friendly layout and variety of hole distances, the Windsor Lake Disc Golf Course appeals to players of all skill levels, from seasoned disc golfers to beginners looking to try out a new outdoor activity. Whether you’re a local looking for a fun way to spend the day or a visitor seeking a memorable disc golf experience in the Berkshires, the Windsor Lake Disc Golf Course promises an enjoyable and scenic round of disc golf in the heart of North Adams, Massachusetts.

Get directions: HERE

Conclusion

As we conclude our exploration of the best things to do in North Adams, Massachusetts, it’s clear that this charming city has much to offer to its visitors. From its fascinating history and vibrant arts scene to its breathtaking natural beauty, North Adams is a destination that captivates the heart and mind. Whether you’re strolling through its historic neighborhoods, admiring world-class art, or hiking along scenic trails, each experience in North Adams leaves a lasting impression. This hidden gem in the Berkshires is a haven for those seeking cultural enrichment, outdoor adventures, and a warm sense of community. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to North Adams, where you’ll discover a world of endless possibilities and create cherished memories that will stay with you long after your visit.

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Tom Riley

Hi! I'm Tom. I am the creator of GoXplr. I started this website with a focus on helping people explore better and explore more. I am based in New England and obsessed with traveling. Here at GoXplr, you will find expert blog posts and also maps containing all of the best places to explore. These blogs and maps have taken thousands of hours to complete. I hope you enjoy this resource and it inspires you to get out and explore!

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